Jays From the Couch brings you a look at Toronto Blue Jays who have seen their performance rise and fall in our 3 Up, 3 Down
With Spring Training past the half way point, but still with 2 weeks to go, now might be a good time to check in and see which of the Toronto Blue Jays has been playing well, who has seen their stock rise, which players have been struggling and all of that. While it is still Spring Training, and performances may not matter, we are getting closer and closer to the time when clubs need to finalize their roster. That means, for some players, their performance absolutely matters.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 3 players who are hot, thus seeing their stock go up, and 3 that are cold, seeing their stock fall in our 3 Up, 3 Down. It should be noted that, for this installment of 3 Up, 3 Down (our first one), we’ll use a greater sample size, while future editions will likely have a week or so to focus on.
Kevin Pillar– The thing about Pillar is that he swing at anything in the same area code. We have heard that over and over again, and it is backed up by the amount of times he swings outside the zone. The good news is that he has worked on decreasing this number in each of the last 3 seasons. The issue is amplified when he gets to 2 strikes. So, needless to say, there was much work to be done this offseason.
And, by all accounts, he is showing a much better approach at the plate. He has seen early dividends this spring going 11 for 31 or .355 with an OPS of 1.025. He has yet to hit his first home run of the spring, but perhaps his improved success can mitigate this concern. His showing is especially good news since the club seems to want to at least test him in the leadoff spot. His baserunning is certainly worth having atth etop of the order, but he will need to get on base much more effectively. His Spring Training OBP of .444, while likely not sustainable shows signs of promise. Now, if he can do it against regularly effective major league pitching…
Kendrys Morales– Whether it is because fans see him as a one for one replacement of Edwin Encarnacion, or their just not familiar with the bat Morales brings, his early showing with his new club seems to be a surprise to many. The switch hitting Cuban is warming himself up to fans with early success. Granted, it is 25 at bats, but he is certainly helping himself raise his stock in Blue Jays Land.
His 25 at bats have yielded 2 HR, 11 hits, 5 runs and 5 RBI. He is hitting .440 with an OBP of .500 and an OPS of 1.300. The obvious caveat of small sample sizes and Spring Training numbers apply here, but the hot bat not only means a lot for the heart of this Blue Jays lineup moving forward, but for making the former Royal’s time in Toronto an easier transition.
Tim Mayza– Pitching performances from guys in bullpen roles can be so difficult to read into. From one outing to the next, a reliever can look like Cy Young, or like Ricky Romero in his later years. Perhaps t is for that reason that Tim Mayza’s spring looks that much better. While others around him are battling consistency, Mayza is popping gloves and opening eyes.
The 25 yr old is throwing heat and having success. In 5.1 innings, he’s struck out 7 and collected a WHIP of 0.94. This season will likely see a revolving door in the LF wall at Rogers Centre. That means that there will be short leashes for those who struggle. As a fireballing lefty, Mayza could find himself called up to Toronto sooner, rather than later. A continued good showing could very well expedite that process.
Justin Smoak– This might be like beating a dead horse, but Smoak is not doing himself any favors this spring. While one would think that the club’s stated confidence in the switch hitting first baseman would provide a calming effect, there hasn’t seem to be any relaxing when it comes to Smoak. He doesn’t seem to be showing increased performance…at all. In fact, in 27 at bats, he has hit .148 with an OBP of .250 and an OPS of .435.
While it would be silly to think that a full season of Smoak would result in such futility, we also need to remember that he has others nipping at his heals. President, Mark Shapiro, has said that Rowdy Tellez could get some consideration for a big league job with a good number of at bats under his belt and someone struggling at the big league level. Well, Smoak is struggling. His performance very well could push the Blue Jays into considering Steve Pearce at first, or even Morales, who has seen some time there this spring. Granted, considering Morales has to be a last resort, but Smoak isn’t exactly making it less likely.
Ryan Goins– With Devon Travis‘ return in question, we would think that Goins’ spot on the roster is more secure. The club will need infielders to fill in for the immediate future. Just how long that is remains to be seen. With a good offensive showing this spring, Goins very well cold make his stay longer. Heck, with strong play, he could make management’s decision even more difficult when Travis returns. Being out of options, Goins situation is that much more difficult.
But, with the way he’s playing this spring, the situation may not be that much of a challenge. He will need to be exposed to waivers when he’s optioned. With his play of late, it wouldn’t be that much of a loss for the Blue Jays. In 32 at bats, he’s hitting .188 with an OBP of .235. Even with an error on Friday, his defense is as solid as you would expect. The problem is that it may not be enough to save him. That said, his bat could result in other teams not willing to take a flyer on him, which would allow him to clear waivers and remain with Toronto.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.